Want to add a "wow" factor to your bathroom? Start with a rich wood vanity with furniture detailing. Then top it off with a sleek stone countertop.
The vanity area has become an important part of the bathroom, particularly in the master bath. It is highly visible and often stretches for 48 to 72 inches along one wall. With that much space, it can make quite a statement.
The same furniture styling that has taken over the kitchen in recent years has moved into the bathroom. Many home buyers are looking for a warm, upscale look that comes with ornate vanities made of rich woods, such as cherry and mahogany.
The vanities often are accented with decorative carvings, vertical molding and arched door panels for emphasis.
This trend also is influencing the use of countertop materials, which go hand-in-hand with a luxury vanity. The laminate and tile countertops of yesteryear have been replaced with a wide variety of granite and marble patterns.
Granite is among the most popular choices, adding a rich look. It also is very durable. Granite is sold in a wide variety of colors, from creams and blacks to greens.
The shiny strength of granite has become the "must have" look in many upscale bathrooms.
"Whereas it once was something to aspire to, now it's almost expected to have some sort of a richer material," said Michael Terrill, a senior product manager with Kohler Co.
A shiny granite countertop might be paired with an undermounted sink to add a sleek look. While white sinks often are used with granite, they do not always blend well with some of the softer tones found in many countertops.
"As we start bringing more stone into the bathroom, the color white may not complement granite like the rest of the color palette," Terrill said.
The solution is to go with a cream or biscuit color.
"It really softens that contrast between a stark white sink and a stone countertop," he said.
That same cream tone can be carried through to the wall, floor and shower tile. The tile may be accented with decorative borders or inlays.
A rope border tile in a shower stall, for example, can match the design or texture found in the cabinetry.
The size of the vanity also has increased, as bathrooms have grown in size. Many master bathrooms are 150 to 200 square feet, making it easy to fit a 48- to 72-inch vanity.
While a single bowl vanity was the norm several years ago, many home buyers expect two sinks today.
"There's clearly a trend toward a double-bowl vanity so you have a his-and-hers area or even separate spaces for two vanities," said Michael Reschke, CEO and chairman of The Prime Group Inc., which is developing the Ten East Delaware condominium project. Units in that project are priced from $500,000 to $2.5 million.
The double-bowl vanities often are paired with granite countertops to create a large, dramatic focal point.
Marble is another popular stone for the bathroom, because it adds unique veining patterns. Marble often is sold with a polished finish, but also can be "honed," which gives it a worn look. Marble is porous, however, and it may show dark stains.
The right vanity can add glamor
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